Acceptance In The House On Mango Street
Have you ever been forced to move from one home to another? If you have, you know what it feels like to be uprooted away from everything you know and love, and move miles away to something completely new and unknown. Even if you cannot relate to experiencing something like this, try to imagine what it must be like to have to start over with a new life. The use of vivid imagery, metaphors, and similes strengthen the theme of acceptance in The House On Mango Street.
The novel The House on Mango Street was written by Sandra Cisneros. In the book, the author is trying to communicate to readers what the main idea is by sharing some of her own life experiences and stories. She does this by composing each chapter as a vignette, which is a small chapter. Throughout the book, the main character, Esperanza, struggles against the feelings of shame and isolation that come with living in the neighborhood she moved to. She is also ashamed of her shabby new house and how her classmates see her as different. But as she spends more time living on Mango Street, Esperanza realizes that a community is not just one strong person leading everyone else, it is a group of special people who have different interests that come together to build each other up to make themselves stronger. In the vignette “The House on Mango Street”, Cisneros states; “They always told us that one day we would move into a house, a real house that would be ours for always so we wouldn’t have to move each year.”… “And inside it would have real stairs, not hallway stairs, but stairs inside like the houses on T.V.”… “But the house on Mango Street is not the way they told it at all.” (4). In the excerpts from the text above, the use of vivid imagery really strengthened the text because it helps us better picture what Esperanza pictured when her parents promised her a house she could be proud of, and the imagery also really helps us be able to relate to Esperanza and feel her disappointment when she saw her house and was let down by what she saw. The quotes above, explain that when Esperanza first heard that she was moving to a new house, she was very hopeful that the house would be a gorgeous home with more than enough room to accommodate her family. These hopes, however, died when she saw where she would be living for the next couple of years.
Even though at first, Esperanza’s high hopes of living in a beautiful house are crushed, later in the novel, we can see that she has matured and learned to accept what she has. In “Those Who Don’t”, Esperanza says; “Those who don’t know any better come into our neighborhood scared. They think we’re dangerous. They think we will attack them with shiny knives.” (28). This excerpt from the novel demonstrates that after only a little while of living in the house on Mango Street, our main character begins to feel at home already and she is already starting to feel accepted and like she is a part of the community around her. Later, in the same vignette, the author says; “All brown all around, we are safe. But watch us drive into a neighborhood of another color and our knees go shake-shake and our car windows get rolled up tight and our eyes look straight. Yeah. That is how it goes and goes.” (28). The quotation above shows us that Esperanza goes outside in her neighborhood, everything is normal because she is used to the way things are, but when she steps out of her community and her comfort zone and enters an area where there is a different culture, she feels vulnerable and uncomfortable in her surroundings. What she is trying to say is that everyone should feel comfortable in their own skin, no matter what others think of them. This quote is the first quote that shows readers that Esperanza is starting to accept who she is and is beginning to feel that she is right where she belongs.
Another way that Sandra Cisneros chooses to show readers what it is like to have to adapt to a new community and new surroundings is the use of similes. In “Born Bad”, it says; “I want to be like the waves on the sea, like the clouds in the wind, but I’m me. One day I’ll jump out of my skin. I’ll shake the clouds like a hundred violins.” (60-61). This part of the book is talking about how Esperanza wants to be an extraordinary, independent person, but she is tied down to her family and her life. This poem that Esperanza wrote is the author’s way of expressing how when she was younger, she wanted to be her own free person, but other priorities got in the way of her being herself. That is why she chose to use similes and said things like “One day, I’ll jump out my skin.” (60). She is trying to give us a visual of what it would be like to be her own person and just be able to be herself. That is how similes strengthen the novel.
Without the use of personification, vivid imagery, and similes in The House on Mango Street, the author would not have been able to convey the idea of accepting who you are.
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